NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘stress

Image credit: Giggle Chick Interactive

Many yoga classes begin with stating an intention for yourself and your practice, so in keeping with this, I thought I’d begin my yoga blog the same way – by stating my intention, and introducing myself.  I am not a yoga teacher (although flatteringly, people sometimes assume that I am because I am such an enthusiastic practitioner).  I am a mere Type A, stressed-out, anxious yoga mortal trying to make my way in the world, and fit as many yoga classes as possible into my my color-coded Outlook schedule – because if I didn’t, things (meaning me) might unravel!  This, is my story…

When I was in college, I thought about doing yoga, and pictured myself in Downward Dog wearing braided pigtails and a super-cute matchy-matchy yoga outfit, but that was about as close as I got to actually taking a class.  When I graduated from college 12 years ago this May, I moved to Manhattan, and within a few weeks I was like, Yo, this place is STRESSFUL! I knew that I had to do something to calm down and fast, so I started going to yoga classes at the local New York Sports Club.  That fall I went to acting school and my modern dance teacher began every class with a hardcore 45-minute yoga warm-up.  And then, two years later in 2000, I had a bad break-up.  Like, it was bad. And that drove me to deepen my practice.  I branched out from yoga at the gym and took classes at yoga studios which incorporated chanting and more spiritual teachings, and had the added benefit of incense and candles, and no booming bass line coming from the Spin class next door.

Which brings me to YogaJen.  As a Jennifer, I’ve grown up surrounded by lots of other Jennifers, and I’ve always had to have some kind of nickname to distinguish myself.  In December, my friend Suzanne, who knows an abundance of Jens, introduced me to her friend Dave as Book Club Jen because we are in the same book club.  However, this didn’t ultimately work because there is another Jen in our book club (it’s 2/5ths Jens), so she had to find another way to name me.  I’ve been known to my friends and their friends as Writer Jen, Teacher Jen, and briefly, Pole Dancing Jen when I was taking pole dancing classes at S Factor a few years ago, although I can say with a fair amount of certainty that that was the least accurate way to describe me.  But Suzanne and I also take yoga classes together, so I became Yoga Jen.

On Friday night we were all at Dave’s watching this week’s LOST, when I started talking about yoga.  “So, are you guys doing any yoga this weekend?  Where are you going to do yoga?”  And Dave was like, “You talk about yoga a lot.”  Then a few minutes passed and we were watching LOST, eating our pizza, drinking our beers, and more yoga thoughts popped into my head.  I tried to suppress them and talk about something else, but I couldn’t do it.  I knew that Suzanne’s boyfriend Pete had an unused Bikram class card so I asked him, “Are you gonna give your Bikram classes to Suzanne?  Suzanne, wanna do Bikram?”  And then Dave was like, “You really are Yoga Jen!”

So I’ve decided to embrace it.  Yes, I really am YogaJen.  I do yoga a lot, I talk about yoga a lot, and I hang out at the Lululemon store just for fun and to chat even when I’m not buying anything.  I reflect about yoga a lot, I’m a reflector.  And now, I’m going to blog about yoga a lot.  Or at least, a fair amount.

I’m not a perfect and serene yogini, but I don’t believe in yogic perfection or perfection of any kind – afterall, it’s a yoga practice not a yoga perfect.  Sometimes I spend entire classes thinking about my To Do list, or worrying about something I said yesterday, or mentally playing out some possible catastrophe that could befall me tomorrow.  And when someone steps on my mat or sweats on me in class, I get yoga rage.  But I practice, and I do my best.  I continue to return to the mat, and bring the teachings from the mat into my everyday life.  Over the years, yoga has helped me with my anxiety and depression, through bad break-ups, and during my most stressful times; it has given me strength of body and peace of mind.

In this blog, I intend to share my oftentimes stressed-out, white-knuckled yogic existence, as well as the quiet moments of Zen that my practice sometimes miraculously brings me.  I want to write about the things I learn along this path, and share the tips and resources that have helped me, from a profound yogic teaching to just the right yoga mat bag, to where to find the best (and cheapest!) yoga classes.  And I’d love to hear from you!  What brought you to your first class?  A bad break-up, bikini season, spiritual curiosity?  What benefits and challenges have you experienced along the way?  Or if you’ve never taken a yoga class but have always wondered about it (perhaps picturing yourself in Downward Dog wearing braids and a matchy-matchy outfit), what is it about yoga that you’re drawn to?  Post a comment and introduce yourself, and tell me about your yogic adventures.  And maybe we can navigate this path together…

As they say at the end of yoga class, Namaste! (the light within me bows to the light within you)



And check out my blog post on “One Writeous Chick” about the process of writing my yoga blog, and why shitty first drafts are eco-conscious!


Follow me on Twitter